Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster in Alexander Mackendrick's great Broadway noir

‘Sweet Smell of Success’ – Broadway noir on Criterion Channel

“I love this dirty town.” The first and only time that Burt Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker drops the cynical twist from his clenched smile and allows genuine appreciation cross his face in Sweet Smell of Success (1957) is when he drops that line while strolling down the nighttime streets of Broadway. It’s not a proclamation or […]

Michael Fassbender stars as 'Steve Jobs' in the feature written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle

‘Steve Jobs’ on Netflix

Steve Jobs (2015) isn’t the usual big screen biopic. Ostensibly adapted from Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography, Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay discards the familiar birth-to-death sweep to offer a triptych of snapshots of Jobs, the co-founder of Apple who became the face of the company over his stormy stewardship, driving innovation and driving out opposition. Apart from […]

Charlton Heston is ‘The Omega Man’ on Criterion Channel

The story of the last human in a world decimated by plague, The Omega Man (1971) is the second film based on Richard Matheson’s haunting novel I Am Legend. Charlton Heston stars as Robert Neville, the last man on Earth, or so he thinks. By day, he hunts and exterminates all the sun-shunning mutants he […]

‘Inception’ – Christopher Nolan’s mind-heist on Netflix

Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), a caper film that heists dreams instead of treasure, is surely the most cerebral action thriller to become a blockbuster. It’s a genre film that reshuffles the rules and lays them out in a mind-bending pattern. Playing out on multiple planes of dream reality, it’s also another Nolan film to completely […]

Sam Rockwell in the debut feature from Duncan Jones

‘Moon’ – Sam Rockwell’s great star turn on Netflix

In Moon (2009), Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is on the verge of unraveling. He’s the lone operator of a moonbase operation mining the new moon rock wonder fuel that has solved Earth’s energy, with only a computerized robot named Gertie (voiced by Kevin Spacey in a dispassionate HAL-9000 tone with just a hint of human […]

Don Johnson stars in the film directed by L.Q. Jones from the Harlan Ellison novella

‘A Boy and His Dog’ on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

A Boy and His Dog (1976), the directorial debut of longtime character actor and Sam Peckinpah regular L.Q. Jones, is not the first post-apocalyptic vision of America but it does offer a different approach to the empty streets and ghostly cities that previously stood in for life after the end. Jones, adapting the novella by […]

Tommy Lee Jones is ‘The Homesman’ – free on Hoopla

The Homesman (2014) was overlooked by critics in the rush to praise more conventional and less resonant films in 2014. It deserves a second look. Tommy Lee Jones directs, co-writes, and stars in the film as George Briggs, a drifter saved from a lynching by Mary Bee (Hilary Swank), a tough, capable settler who has […]

‘Danny Collins’ on Amazon Prime and Kanopy

“The following is kind of based on a true story a little bit.” A very little bit, it turns out, but it is a great premise. Danny Collins was a musical phenom of the seventies turned pop music legend who has spent his last decades falling back on familiar songs and greatest hits tours. A […]

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale on Netflix

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, 2006), Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, is an elemental Alice in Wonderland amidst the horrors of Francisco Franco’s reign of terror in 1944 Spain. Our Alice is an imaginative young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who escapes into an elemental wonderland after she moves into the country estate with her ailing […]

Jalmari Helander directs this satirical holiday adventure thriller from Norway

‘Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale’ on Prime Video and free on Kanopy

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Finland, 2010) comes from the land of the original Father Christmas but he’s no cuddly old man who hands out presents at Christmas. This Santa Claus, who has been buried in a man-made glacier like a wooly mammoth, is a child-snatching demon who punishes the naughty with the help of […]